Nothing assists a family historian more than images. However it does not need to be photos or drawings of just one’s ancestors. Of course, that alone is super valuable, but so is their life and times. Using illustrations, drawings and photos of the places, events, activities, sports, work, social, businesses, towns, etc. that directly affected our ancestors allows you to step back in time and better understand their environment.
Available free online is a fantastic site titled ‘Retronaut‘ and that is its concept, to allow the viewer to experience the scenes of towns, the products used, the documents written and the work done by those who came before us. Clicking on the main page you see its subtitle ‘A Warehouse for Time Capsules’ and that is a pretty good description. Along the top of the page are dates broken into decades, each one a link to that time period.
Scrolling down the main page are a variety of illustrations, political cartoons, postcards, advertisements, products, people, events, businesses from the various decades. Under each a brief description. Some of the examples include a deck of cards from 1702, a theatre customers in 1890s, to the photo of a Bible that stopped a bullet from killing a soldier during World War I. The selection and scope of the drawings, papers and photos is massive. This collection is submitted by a variety of people who wish to share these images. You, the researcher benefit by seeing the digital items. You can also ‘save’ an image.
To help in the search beside looking by dates there is a section titled ‘categories’ to the top left. Use the drop down to view certain topics such as people, animals, events, music, etc. Selecting just the topic ‘Famous People’ brings a world of the celebrated people from around the globe, many times in more candid shots.
At the top right is a general search box. Once the selected search items appear, click on one and then several additional and related images also appear. Perhaps the most interesting method to explore this site is just by decades to see the multitude of advertisements, photos and drawings.
Bookmark this site and return often, plenty to see and more is being added.
Photo: 1875 – the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge.